Greg Louganis began competing in diving at age 10. By 16, he had won his first Olympic medal, a silver medal on the platform in 1976. At 24, he became the first man in 56 years to win two gold medals in diving by winning both the platform and springboard events. In 1988, after hitting his head on the diving board during preliminary round, everyone thought he was out of the running, but he summoned the courage to continue competing and became the first male ever to win double gold medals for diving in two consecutive Olympics.
Greg Louganis began competing in diving at age 10. By 16, he had won his first Olympic medal, a silver medal on the platform in 1976. At 24, he became the first man in 56 years to win two gold medals in diving by winning both the platform and springboard events. In 1988, after hitting his head on the diving board during preliminary round, everyone thought he was out of the running, but he summoned the courage to continue competing and became the first male ever to win double gold medals for diving in two consecutive Olympics. Greg’s diving accomplishments do not stop there. He is a six time World Champion and has held 47 national championship titles. At the Pan Am Games he earned six gold medals and in 1985 he was awarded the Sullivan Award as the nation’s most outstanding amateur athlete.
Greg’s autobiography, “Breaking the Surface,” spent 5 weeks at #1 on the New York Times Best-Seller List. He then produced a video diary called “Looking To the Light,” which picked up where “Breaking the Surface” left off. Greg Louganis is clearly the world’s greatest diver and a fine athlete. At the 1988 Olympic Games he was awarded the Maxwell House/United States Olympic Committee Spirit Award as the Olympic athlete who had best exhibited the ideals of the Olympic spirit, demonstrated extraordinary courage and contributed significantly to the sport. Greg is more than just a diver, he stands out as a human being as well. It was a pleasure to sit down with Greg for this exclusive Hotspots interview.
1) At what age did you get involved with diving and how did it happen?
I started dancing and acrobatics at 1 ½ years old, which naturally led into gymnastics. Gymnastics evolved into diving.
2) When did you realize you were good enough to compete on a national and international level?
In the 1976 Olympics I received silver in diving and honestly I felt like a loser. I never thought I was good enough until I won my 2nd world championship in 1982. That’s when I truly felt like I belonged on the world stage in diving.
3) How disappointing was it to not be able to compete in the 1980 Summer Olympics (due to the American boycott) after being the favorite to win 2 gold medals?
It was pretty disappointing, but looking back on it my suspicions are had I gone and done well I probably would have retired. At that time diving was something I was good at not necessarily something I enjoyed; I was very young.
4) On a lighter note, how incredible was it to win those 2 gold medals in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles?
It was great. In 1984 the eastern bloc countries weren’t competing but it didn’t make a difference in diving because our competition was China. It was also great that it was in our backyard (LA) so that I could share it with my family and friends. It was also probably my best performance ever.
5) In the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, how did you summon the courage to continue to compete after you suffered a concussion in the preliminary round?
That was a really odd time for me because I had learned 6 months prior that I was HIV positive and I knew I was in a country that I wouldn’t be welcome at if they knew my status. I was paralyzed with fear, but I worked too long and hard to get there and did not want to give up. Ryan White was a buddy of mine and I knew he would fight so, I had to.
6) Then you went on to repeat your 1984 victory with 2 gold medals at Seoul. Can you explain how incredible that must have felt?
Bittersweet, because I knew in my heart those were my last competitive dives. I thought I was going to retire from the sport, go home and lock myself in my house and wait to die from HIV.
7) Since testing positive in 1988 you have been an outspoken advocate for HIV awareness and testing. How has this changed your life?
Coming out with my book “Breaking the Surface” in 1995 was very freeing, because the truth shall set you free. For a while I felt very isolated; like I was on an island alone. Then I realized I wasn’t the only one dealing with something like this. The book tour was amazing because thousands of people would come and share their experiences with me.
8) Are you single? If so, what is your perfect man? If not, tell us about your partner and how you met.
I am in a committed relationship. We met online and it wasn’t manhunt. The first pic I saw of him was his face. He lived in Connecticut and we met on American Singles, which is mostly a straight site. However, the gay guys on there seem to be more relationship oriented. He is a computer programmer by trade. His smile reaches his eyes and that is how he caught my attention.
9) How does it feel to be a gay icon?
I really don’t see myself the way others see me, so that is very hard for me to answer. I am a really simple guy. I am just trying to be the best person I can be. It is so important that young people be their own heroes and not look outside themselves.
Catch Greg as the Parade Grand Marshall this Sunday at Orlando Pride!